The New Classic
Has Lady Gaga made the profound artistic statement she's promised? Or is ARTPOP more of the same?
Admittedly the same would be no terrible thing. No star has made quite the impact Gaga's managed in the past five years, combining towering pop moments with inspirational production and fruitloop ideas, but she's talking an even bigger game with her third proper album. ARTPOP is supposed to do what it says on the cover: fuse art and pop with the kind of panache that will break the mould.
At times though, the only thing Gaga's breaking are her own feet of clay. "Ur-anus/Don't you know my ass is famous?" goes one piercing line in the hopeless Venus as Gaga falls back on the sauce and the song lurches through the Eurodance templates. Donatella, too, is a bland song lifted by diverting lyrics ("I'm blonde, I'm skinny, I'm rich/And I'm a little bit of a bitch"), force of personality striving to overcome ordinary fare.
But the drab's outweighed by the sparkle. ARTPOP's so much better with the concept shelved, when the belting songs stand on their own. First track Aura is a crazy hurtle through Spanish guitar trills and Daft Punk techno-rock chords, R Kelly duet Do What U Want is a festival of oneupmanship set to dark electro-pop and Gypsy tops the lot, wheeling out an adorable hi-NRG anthem. Gaga's at her best when she lets the fun beat the philosophy.